FiiO designed some very decent wired in-ear headphones over the past few years, but this new one, the FH5, feels like a fresh start. Great, but since most phones no longer have headphone jacks and Bluetooth headphones now rule the portable market, who’s still buying wired in-ear headphones? Audiophiles, for one, or anyone who wants to hear music at its best!
Hold the FH5 in your hands and you’ll get a feel for its build quality — it’s downright luxurious. The very solid-feeling earpieces and user-replaceable and very flexible 47-inch (1.2-meter) silver-plated copper cables are top-notch. Each CNC-machined aluminum earpiece is fitted with three balanced armature drivers, plus a 10mm bass driver. Impedance is rated at an easy-to-drive 19 ohms.
The earpiece shape and form-fitting, around-the-ear cable are designed to provide a secure fit. I found the FH5 far more stable than any true wireless ‘bud, that’s for sure.
Since proper ear-tip seal is essential to maximize the performance of any in-ear ‘phone FiiO includes a generous assortment of sizes and types of tips. Rather than just jumble them together in a plastic bag the FH5 has them neatly laid out in a sturdy compartment.
The FH5 sells for $260 on Amazon in the US, £230 in the UK and AU$380 in Australia.
Listening to the FH5
I listened the FH5 on my desktop first with a JDS Labs Atom headphone amp ($99), next with an old Astell & Kern JR portable music player, which has a 3.5mm headphone jack. I also listened with my iPhone 8 with an Apple 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter.
Comfort levels were good — it’s an easy headphone to wear for hours at a time. On the New York City subway the FH5’s noise-isolation was about average for this type of headphone.
Texas band Khruangbin’s meaty funk grooves had plenty of high impact slam, taut definition, and the drums transients were crisp and clear. Cymbals shimmered and sparkled, detail was just right. There was a tactile quality to the texture of the sound, without it ever turning harsh.
The Jesus & Mary Chain’sStoned & Dethroned album’s sprawling reverberation almost made me forget I was listening over headphones, the sound was that big. The FH5 is a very open-sounding headphone; the sound isn’t stuck between your ears with good recordings.
I next listened over a set of Etymotic ER4XR headphones ($349), and while the sound was clear, it lacked the FH5’s weighty impact and more natural sound with vocals. The ER4XR’s dynamics punch was nowhere as satisfying as the FH5’s, and its stereo imaging was less three-dimensional than the FH5’s. Frankly, it was no contest, the FH5 totally clobbered the ER4XR.
The FiiO FH5 is an extraordinary headphone for the money. With well above-average comfort, build, and sound quality, it comes highly recommended!
With games such as The Outer Worlds, Cyberpunk 2077, Doom Eternal, and the briefly spotted new Halo and Gears of War entries, E3 2019 tipped the scales toward dystopian sci-fi over fantasy or modern military games. Maybe it’s because these games seem hardly more than small leaps from today. Or maybe because gritty neon hackerspeak futures are just the lingua franca of modern fiction
Whatever the reason, the two games I’ve been asked about the most coming out of E3 are The Outer Worlds and Cyberpunk 2077, both different takes on the grandiose sci-fi RPG idea. They also happen to be two games I got to see extensive live gameplay demos of, so that worked out rather nicely.
The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds is Fallout reimagined as a space western. That’s literally all you need to know about the game. If that idea appeals, then you’re going to be all-in.
Set in the far reaches of a distant space colony, the game has the dialog trees, shifting alliances and stealth/actions/diplomacy options of Fallout and Elder Scrolls games. It’s made by the same company that developed Fallout: New Vegas (among other role-playing games), and doesn’t stray far from its roots.
On one hand, it has the slightly dated, under-detailed look of a Fallout game, but it also has that magical sandbox feel, where endless experimentation can be rewarded with unique experiences. And yes, you can slow down time, like in Fallout, to approach fights tactically.
That’s enough for me to sign up, but I’m also not expecting anything shockingly new or genre-breaking.
Hugely hyped since last year based on little more than the name and a few pieces on concept art, this game has pulled off an impressive feat. It actually delivers on much of that hype, at least based on a guided hour-long live gameplay demo I witnessed behind closed doors.
It’s basically Deus Ex by way of the TV series Mr. Robot. It’s more ambitious the The Outer Worlds, and it shows. The environments are much more detailed, the character interactions vary beyond theSkyrim/Fallout carnival automaton model and the voice acting and dialog, while not fantastic, at least feel like everyone involved is doing more than just phoning it in.
Oddly, the most underwhelming part of the Cyberpunk 20177 demo, which involved playing a few factions off each other to gain the favor of an underworld boss, was Keanu himself. His supporting role is a cyber ghost of some kind, offering guidance and encouragement (you know, like in Topper), but in the few scenes I previewed, his performance didn’t spark much excitement. More Ted “Theodore” Logan than John Wick. But that’s just from a handful of lines, maybe he’s more animated (no pun intended) in the rest of the game.
Also, I don’t want to worry anyone, but he’s got a metal arm, and his character’s name is Johnny Silverhand.
The dark themes, neon architecture and shady hacker types are all well-worn tropes, but the gritty world-building and excellent visuals (no doubt powered by a high-end PC in this demo session) are spot-on.
While these two games feel very different, it’s interesting that both wrap their drama in themes of corrupt capitalism, exploited masses and the technological-industrial complex. While you’re fighting The Man, just try not to dwell too much on the involvement of companies like Microsoft, Take-Two Interactive and other game biz giants.
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“Hey Twitter world, this is yours truly. Coming soon to Twitter, you’ll get to read all my thoughts and opinions on just about everything,” Simpson said in a selfie video posted on Friday night.
But the more ominous moment in the video was when Simpson added with a smile, “It should be a lot of fun. I’ve got a little getting even to do.”
Simpson didn’t elaborate was “getting even” actually meant, but those who know about his notorious murder case might find that comment a bit unsettling.
Simpson joined Twitter just two days after the 25th anniversary of the killings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. The trial captured the attention of the world, especially when the famous NFL Hall of Fame member was tried and acquitted by a jury in 1995.
While Simpson’s Twitter account has yet to be verified with a blue checkmark like other celebrities, his attorney, Malcolm LaVergne, told CNN that account does belong to Simpson.
“Mr. Simpson is the most positive person I’ve ever met,” LaVergne told CNN on Saturday. “He’s also very well informed on current events. He will not be negative. Nor will he comment on the LA thing. It will be one of the best accounts on Twitter to follow.”
“The LA thing” that LaVergne is referring to is the June 12, 1994, murders of Nicole and Ron.
While Simpson avoided jail time for the 1994 murders, he was later convicted in Las Vegas for a 2007 robbery and kidnapping after he attempted to steal some of his sports memorabilia from a hotel. Simpson was released from prison in October 2017.
Time will tell what Simpson will reveal on his personal Twitter account, but it should prove to be interesting to say the least.
Monzo, known across the United Kingdom for its signature bright coral cards, said Thursday that it’s planning launch events in Los Angeles and other major US cities.
The move is a big gamble for the startup, which has gained massive popularity due to its easy-to-use interface and appeal among young professionals.
“It’s attracting customers who initially buy into the hype, and [then] realize it’s a better banking experience,” said Alessandro Hatami, managing partner at Pacemakers, a digital banking consultancy.
That doesn’t mean the United States is a sure bet.
Navigating fintech regulation is much harder in America than in much of Europe, since companies have to gain approvals state by state. Plus, there’s already plenty of competition for deposits, from traditional banks to tech companies such as Paypal(PYPL).
Monzo, which was founded in 2015, has more than 2 million users in the United Kingdom. It says it’s adding 200,000 more each month.
The company is valued at nearly $1.3 billion, according to CB Insights. It has some support in the United States; Joshua Kushner’s Thrive Capital is an investor.
The app has been able to build a fan base because it’s fast and intuitive, Hatami said. Instant spending notifications and no fees on international payments have served as a major draw.
Those features will also be available in the United States, according to a spokesperson, though the company said will take time to build out a full suite of offerings.
Monzo still has room to grow in the United Kingdom, according to John Cronin, financial services analyst at Goodbody. But it makes sense for the bank to see if its model can work in the United States, which is an extremely fragmented market without a dominant player, he said.
Among the biggest challenges for Monzo will be differences in regulation. UK regulators are known for being friendly to fintech companies. The environment looks different in the United States.
“US regulators are not that savvy as far as financial services are concerned,” Hatami said. “They’ve either been oblivious on regulation, or incredibly strict.”
Monzo was able to obtain a banking license in the United Kingdom in April 2017, which allowed users to perform bank transfers and set up services such as direct debits and deposits.
It won’t enter the US market with such a permit. Instead, the company is partnering with the Ohio-based Sutton Bank, which overseen by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
The United States is also home to different spending and saving trends. What tends to attract attention is credit cards that come with lots of reward points. And mobile payments are not yet ubiquitous in America the way they are inparts of Europe.
Hatami said that he thinks Monzo will be adaptable and could even adopt a points scheme down the line.
“They’re very good at understanding what you actually want to do with your money,” he said.
The startup will have no shortage of competition. It will come up against Venmo owner Paypal, other startups like SoFi and traditional banks such as JPMorgan Chase(JPM), which have been pouring money into their digital offerings.
Then there’s the threat of Silicon Valley getting into the payments space. The real danger for Monzo is that Facebook(FB) or Amazon(AMZN) will get involved in online banking or payments in a big way, Cronin said.
If the cautionary tale of the tortoise and the hare applies to foldable phones, Samsung and Huawei are learning the hard way that being first still won’t guarantee the prize. The phone-makers wanted their Galaxy Fold and Mate X to prove how exciting and successful a foldable phone could be. Instead, we got a lot of flash and — so far — little substance.
These snafus threaten to derail what was once heralded as one of the biggest leaps for mobile phones. Foldable phones promised to double the screen size and revolutionize design at a time when phone sales have waned amid lackluster aesthetic upgrades.
But major hiccups are dampening enthusiasm for the bendable devices before they even come out. A foldable phone has to use flexible plastic, which make them especially vulnerable to nicks and gouges, pressure damage and bulges formed by debris tunneling under the display. These delays cast doubt on how well the radically expensive devices hold up to constant use.
The delays don’t come as a total surprise. The brands only showed off their foldable phones briefly, unlike virtually every other models that see much more time in reviewers’ hands before the final review unit appears. We used the Mate X for about five minutes in March and first touched the Galaxy Fold moments before we received our review unit in April. The phone-makers’ elusive attitude was a strong tip-off that the foldable devices weren’t ready for prime time.
The Fold was announced February 20 and was supposed to sell 51 days ago on April 26. Huawei unveiled the Mate X a few days later and was slated to sell in June. Samsung declined to comment. Huawei did not respond to a request for comment.
Plastic is a problem, but bendable glass is years away
From the very beginning, phone-watchers remarked that the Galaxy Fold and Mate X’s foldable plastic screens could be their very undoing. Because who wants to spend $2,000 or more on a scratch-prone phone?
The key to making phones stronger is bendable glass, which won’t be ready for a few years. CNET got an exclusive look at Corning’s bendable glass, which, even if fragile, is still expected to offer a degree of protection over the Galaxy Fold and Mate X’s plastic screens.
Observers were mostly concerned about the “ugly” crease you see when you unbend a foldable phone into its full-screen mode, and if this could lead to wear and tear over hundreds of thousands of bends. The crease either appears as a ridge or a valley depending on if the larger screen unfolds on the inside or outside of the device.
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For example, the Galaxy Fold opens like a book to reveal an interior 7.3-inch display, where the Mate X’s 8-inch screen acts more like the book cover that wraps around the outside of the frame.
A plastic screen prone to scratches on its softer surface was another issue, especially for outward-bending models like the Mate X, where more of the delicate screen is exposed.
In the Galaxy Fold’s case, where Gorilla Glass protects the interior screen when the phone is closed, I still noticed indentations and scratches on the plastic cover material after just seven days. Some of the Fold’s issues arose because reviewers peeled off a protective layer that wasn’t intended to come off, which made the phone immediately stop working. Samsung has reportedly fixed these problems, but hasn’t shared when it plans to put the Galaxy Fold on sale.
It’s too soon to declare foldable phones dead. Samsung and Huawei still plan to launch an improved Galaxy Fold and the Mate X, respectively, and Google declared support for foldable designs in May at its annual Google I/O conference for developers. That means app-makers are already optimizing their software to work on foldable phones.
While off to a stuttering start, these companies have invested millions into foldable designs. It’s a gamble that they’re counting on to pay off in the long run.
Apple often waits years after a category is established — think smartphone or smartwatch — before coming in with a fully polished product.
The very first foldable phone models were always going to be niche, beta-style devices for bleeding-edge adopters, models that reveal the strengths and weaknesses of a brand-new design ethos that their makers could then fine-tune down the line.
Samsung and Huawei aimed to score the first points and force rivals to follow suit. But if competitors are learning any lesson, it’s to slow down and get their foldable designs right. Hopefully Samsung and Huawei are taking note, too.
Posted June 15 at 5 a.m. PT. Update, June 16 at 3:30 a.m. PT: Edited for clarity.
The redesign,which was announced and launched Thursday, brings tabs to the library section of a subscriber’s app: one for music and one for podcasts.
People will be able to swipe or tap between the two tabs to get to the content they want.
Spotify(SPOT) didn’t respond to a request for comment about what led to the redesign.
In April, it announced plans to invest between $400 million and $500 million in the “emerging podcast marketplace.” The move is an attempt to expand its current offerings in the hope of retaining subscribers and gaining new ones.
It’s acquired several different podcasting companies and last week announced a new exclusive podcast partnership with the Obamas.
Daniel Ek, CEO of the Swedish company, has said people’sinterest inreducing screen time opens up “a massive audio opportunity.”
While Apple(AAPL) dominates the podcast space, Spotify is solidifying its position as an importantplatform for podcasters.
The podcast tab has three sections — episodes, downloads and shows. Spotify said in a statement that the new look will give people “more control” and help them “quickly” discover new podcasts.
The music tab is broken into playlists, artists and albums. With the “streamlined” redesign, people will be able to access music faster, according to Spotify.
“Everything about the reimagined Library is designed to get you to the content you want faster,” Spotify said.
The redesign comes amid other changes. On Wednesday, Spotify launched a new playlist called “Your Daily Drive,” which gives people the experience of listening to the radio. In May, Spotify said it was testing a voice-controlled device for cars called “Car Thing.”
Spotify has also said it may test similar devices for homes, which could compete with the Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod. Research suggests music streaming is one of the most popular uses of smart speakers.
Spotify recently revealed it has over 217 million monthly global users and over 100 million paid subscribers.
WWDC 2019 may be over, but it’s left behind a trail of clues that hint at what Apple is planning for its next batch of product announcements. The latest clue could suggest a USB-C on the 2019 iPhones. This week Apple user Raphaël Mouton published a picture on his Twitter account of the recovery screen on an iPhone running the developer’s beta of iOS 13. At first glance it just looks like an image of a Mac and the top end of a cable — but that’s no Lightning cable.
The existing iPhone recovery mode image clearly shows a Lightning cable tip, while the one in the beta looks more like a USB-C tip as pointed out by Forbes. This could be a sign that Apple is planning to swap out the Lightning port for the more widely used USB-C port in its 2019 iPhone lineup, a rumor that’s been making the rounds since before the 2018 iPhone launch cycle. Also, it wouldn’t come as too much of a shock considering Apple has already made the change from Lightning to USB-C on its 2018 iPad Pros and MacBooks.
The new features on the next batch of iPhones could come at a price though, as rumors about Apple eliminating 3D Touch continue to gain steam. After a visit with Apple suppliers in Asia, Barclay analysts, cited in MacRumors, seemed certain that Apple will eliminate this feature in the 2019 iPhone lineup.
This pressure-sensitive technology allows users to access more control options by pressing harder on the phone’s screen. Apple first debuted 3D Touch in its iPhone 6S. It was meant to help with navigation once Apple decided to get rid of the home button with the iPhone X, but it hasn’t proven to be critical. Apple replaced 3D Touch in last year’s iPhone XR with Haptic Touch (its fancy term for a long-press with a slight vibration) to make room for a larger, nearly bezel-less LCD display. And though it doesn’t have as much functionality as 3D Touch, it’s proved to be a good compromise for users.
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We won’t know for certain whether or not Apple will eliminate 3D Touch until the iPhone 11 launch in September, but we can rest assured that the functionality will remain, at least to some degree (whether via Haptic Touch or otherwise). The developer’s beta of iOS 13 includes even more use-cases for it, and it’s unlikely Apple would add more ways to use a defunct feature in iOS.
At WWDC, the company said the new MacPro and 6K display would be available this fall, but didn’t specify when. Then for a brief moment, if you clicked on the “Notify me” link above the Mac Pro on the Apple.com homepage, the pop-up read “Coming in September.” But then if you clicked on the product page and did the same, it read “Coming this fall”.
By the time Apple noticed and corrected the slip, it has already been published on 9to5Mac and MacRumors, and made its way around the internet. It has since been corrected to match the other notifications, and Apple has not responded to a query about when the new products will ship.
That said, I’d definitely put my money on a September release date for the Mac Pro, maybe even the day of the iPhone reveal.
Rival smartphone maker Samsung has also delayed the launch of its $1,980 Galaxy Fold after some reviewers reported the device was breaking. They experienced defective hinges and broken screens.
Huawei, the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker and No. 2 smartphone brand, faces a unique set of problems.
The US Commerce Department placed Huawei on a trade blacklist last month, barring American firms from selling tech to the company. That would cut Huawei off from key suppliers like Google(GOOGL) and Micron(MICR).
Whether Huawei’s foldable phone will run Google’s Android operating system is “under discussion,” said Schloss.
The US export ban is part of a broader US campaign against Huawei.
Washington says that Huawei presents a national security risk, and that Beijing could use its equipment to spy on other nations. Huawei has repeatedly denied that any of its products pose such a risk.
A temporary reprieve from the US Commerce Department allows American companies to continue to supply Huawei with software and components to service existing networks until August.
But the US trade blacklist has already started to affect Huawei’s smartphone business.
Lots of people dream of suiting up like Iron Man and shooting to the skies. Count former MythBusters co-host Adam Savage among them.
For Savage Builds, his new eight-part series focused on extreme engineering, Savage recruited a team from the science-focused Colorado School of Mines to build him an Iron Man suit made largely from 3D-printed titanium. The idea was to power it with a jetpack from Gravity Industries, run by Savage’s buddy, UK inventor Richard Browning. Five 1,000-horsepower mini jet engines strapped to the body power the exoskeleton.
“It sounds like hyperbole, but I swear… if Tony Stark was not fictional and he was building an Iron Man suit right now, this is precisely how he would do it and this is the exact technology he’d be using,” Savage told a CNET camera crew that spent two days with him as he attempted to learn to fly in an airplane hangar east of San Francisco.
On Friday’s premiere episode of Savage Builds, Savage puts on the shiny silver contraption but doesn’t feel comfortable enough (yet) to wear it and test the jetpack at the same time. Browning does, however, and manages to hover about 15 feet (4.5 meters) above the ground. Granted, he didn’t hover above skyscrapers or zip to other planets, but his feat will surely give a lift to superhero hopefuls looking to become the next Tony Stark.
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“That was the most fun I’ve ever had with 1,000 horsepower in my whole life,” Savage said after the test flight. “That was astounding.”
In addition to titanium components, the suit has parts made from urethane, fiberglass and 3D-printed nylon. It also has hinged joints and jointed fingers. Because Savage didn’t just want to fly like Iron Man. He wanted to look like him.
Savage Build premieres on the Science Channel and will air on the Discovery Channel. Savage will focus on a single project per episode. In one, he’ll attempt to create a working version of one of history’s most notorious engineering failures — Panjandrum, the British military’s World War II rocket-propelled explosive weapon. In another, he’ll experiment with highly volatile liquid nitroglycerin. Because that’s what you do when you’re a maker/tinkerer/questioner who builds and blows things up in the name of science.
“This new series is a culmination of sorts, as I get to work with some of the most brilliant minds out there as we attempt to solve really absurd ideas that I’ve had in my head for a long time, but have never had the opportunity to dive into,” Savage said when announcing the new show. “Of course, the most absurd ideas are often what generates the most innovative engineering.”
Nonprofit OneFifteen opened part of its campus Friday. Its key investors and partners include Alphabet’s(GOOGL) life sciences unit Verily and REIT Alexandria Real Estate(ARE). Verily and Alexandria Real Estate first announced that the center was opening in February.
Alexandria designed and developed the facility. Alexandria founder and executive chairman Joel Marcus told CNN Business that it has a 50-50 ownership split of the real estate with Verily.
The full facility will include six buildings for inpatient residents, outpatient care, family reunification and other social services. It is expected to be completed by 2020, Marcus said.
But OneFifteen is ready to tackle the crisis well before that. It will start to work with patients later this summer.
“We have a pretty big bold vision. We’re excited to get started and move pretty quickly. This crisis is something we really want to tackle head on,” said Marti Taylor, president and chief executive officer of OneFifteen, in an interview with CNN Business.
Taylor, a former nurse who then worked as a hospital administrator at Duke and Ohio State, said opioid addiction may now be the worst public health problem of our time, similar to the AIDS/HIV epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s.
Verily brings an important tech focus to the table to help address the crisis. It will use data analytics to measure the effect of treatment. But Taylor said the Alphabet unit also realizes that technology is not the only way to treat drug addiction.
“This is as much about the physical facilities and the people involved in treatment as well as technology,” she said. “Our foundation is going to be based on a community approach. It’s high tech but also high touch.”
Taylor compared opioid addiction to other chronic illnesses that Verily is also working on treatments for, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
“This is not a 30-day process where you are fixed and can just move on,” she said.
OneFifteen will also be working with several well-regarded health care companies, including Ohio hospital operators Kettering Health Network and Premier Health as well as Samaritan Behavioral Health.
Taylor said that for the time being, the focus will be on patients in Ohio but the OneFifteen model could eventually be replicated in other parts of the country where opioid abuse is prevalent.
She also said that OneFifteen will do all it can to make care affordable. She expects more than half of the center’s patients will likely have Medicaid or other forms of government insurance.
“We won’t turn the uninsured away and will work hard with them so they can get some type of coverage. We want to be accessible,” she said.
Taylor added that the main goal for OneFifteen will be to change its name one day. She said OneFifteen is a reference to a 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that showed 115 people in the US died from opioid overdoses each day.
Sadly, that rate has only increased since then.
“It’s a staggering statistic and we hope the number comes down,” Taylor said.